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How I Overcame Being Shy, Selfish, and Seriously Awkward

By: Guest Blogger

I was 15 years old, had a mouth full of braces and was desperately shy and awkward. Our whole family was involved in the AWANA program at our church and I had just started attending the high school program.

The first week came and I sat by myself. I walked to game time by myself. I left by myself. The next week, the same thing happened. This went on for several months.

I hated going.

I hated feeling shy and uncomfortable. I hated not having any friends and feeling desperately alone.

After several more weeks, I thought up a “brilliant” plan. Since, there was no getting out of going, I would just pretend to go. I would sneak away and hide in the unoccupied church sanctuary and then leave with everyone else and act like I had had a great time. Brilliant?

Not so much.

This story seems pretty laughable all these years later. The shy girl hiding because she was terrified to talk to new people.

However, from a young age, I was forming a bad habit of “hiding” from situations that were difficult or awkward for me.

I avoided one-on-one conversations, parties, or large social gatherings (which is nearly impossible to do in my extremely extroverted family).

I labeled myself as “shy” and that was that.

After years of hiding behind the label “shy” I came to a place where I really didn’t like the person I had become. I was in my early twenties and I didn’t like having shallow relationships. I was tired of feeling totally awkward in conversations and social settings.

So, I decided to take some serious action.

First, I admitted I had a problem. This was key for me! I wasn’t born shy and awkward. I had let myself become that way. I had to acknowledge this.

Second, I took a practical step to change this. I humbled myself and asked my older sister, Kristen, to mentor me and help me learn how to become a better conversationalist. We started meeting every week. This is when I started seeing real change.

We actually practiced having good and meaningful conversations.

I learned some great techniques for listening and sharing. She would also give me “homework.” I had specific things I had to do throughout the week (i.e. talk to one new person at church by myself for at least five minutes).

Slowly but surely I was breaking out of my shell and becoming the person GOD wanted me to be.

I was and still am a naturally quiet person. I’m an introvert at heart.

But, here’s the bottom line: we are all created with a God-given personality (outgoing, quiet, etc.) and we can use that personality for good or for evil.

In my case I was using my personality for evil. I wasn’t investing in the lives of others at all. I was only focusing on myself and my needs.

“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe” (Proverbs 29:25).

When I surrendered my fears and insecurities to God and asked Him to help me in this area, I started seeing that my “quiet” personality could be used for good.

I began asking people meaningful questions.

I purposed to be available to listen to people that needed someone to talk to. I strived to speak words of encouragement to those around me.

And guess what happened??

My relationships started thriving. My conversations were way deeper. I had sooo much more joy and peace in my life. I wasn’t scared or nervous about going to parties or social events. I didn’t dread one-on-one conversations either. I actually looked forward to going to church and fellowshipping.

To all of my “shy” friends out there: If you are serious about overcoming your “shyness” and becoming the person God created you to be, these 3 steps of actions are for you. These helped me a ton!

1. Own It!

The first step for me was to recognize that I had a problem and then own it! Take responsibility. Don’t blame it on your “shyness” or other circumstances.

Recognize that bad habits have made you the way you are and new good habits can help you become the person God wants you to be.

2. Ask For Help and Get Accountability.  

Get help! Look for someone you know who is a really good communicator and ask them if they would be willing to help you.

Yes, this takes humility. But it’s worth it. Trust me! Ask if they’ll meet with you or talk on the phone regularly to give you communication help and keep you accountable. Be humble, be open to correction, and diligently work on making changes.

3. Just Do It!

Get out there and do it. Start small. Take that first baby step. Remember what I did? I started by forcing myself to talk to one person for 5 minutes at church.

Making change can be really hard and awkward. But remember, old habits won’t be broken in a day. Take that first step. Go talk to someone. Ask them how they are doing, what they have been up to, etc. And then keep asking more people!

God did a radical change in my life.

One year ago today, I was a very shy person. And today, I’m still myself –  just a much better version.

As a result of God changing my attitude and heart in this area, He has opened up unimagined doors of opportunity for me. One of them being the opportunity to serve as a leader (a leader!!) in my BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) group! And you know what…I was actually excited about it.

There is hope for the most shy, awkward and uncomfortable person out there.

By God’s grace, YOU can change. You can become a friendly, welcoming and warm person. God made us to love others and have deep meaningful relationships with people and YOU can have that.

I want to hear from you now (especially you introverts).

  • Do you feel intimidated and uncomfortable in social settings, one-on-one’s, and in groups? If so, why?
  • I have learned that shyness is usually a disguised form of selfishness. Why do you think you tend to be “shy?” When did this habit form?
  • What practical steps can you put into action today to slowly overcome your timidity?

Let’s interact below!

P.S. That’s me on the left in the picture 🙂

This guest post was written by Ellissa Baird, one of our awesome younger sisters. She is 25 years old, loves coffee, and spent this past summer serving orphans in China. She’s seriously thebomb.com! 

Ellissa and Bethany

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  • Sophie

    I used to (and still can be sometimes) be super shy and awkward but after working for a christian holiday company for 5 months and everyone around me commented that I had come out of my shell so much! I feel so much better about the person I am. I have confidence in my salvation and so I am not afraid!

  • Melanie

    This was very helpful. Thank you. An answer to your questions:

    “Do you feel intimidated and uncomfortable in social settings, one-on-one’s, and in groups? If so, why?”

    I hate the feeling of fighting against myself to approach a person. If I’m nervous, my mind goes blank and I shut down. I can’t talk. I have a hard time hearing people if there’s a lot of noise. As soon as there are about five or so people I have no problem talking with them. I’m uncomfortable in groups because they’re unpredictable and overwhelming sometimes.

    “I have learned that shyness is usually a disguised form of selfishness. Why do you think you tend to be “shy?” When did this habit form?”

    I guess being shy for me is a way to block people out. If I’m not vulnerable, I can’t get hurt. But I also know that if I don’t learn to be vulnerable, I can’t love others effectively.
    Being shy originated from being homeschooled and feeling like an outsider in youth groups when I was a teen. It was easier to keep to myself than try to make friends.

    “What practical steps can you put into action today to slowly overcome your timidity?”

    Small steps at a time. I’m doing way better. I’m in Bible college now, and though it’s frustrating sometimes, I’ve learned not to hate myself for being shy, but to allow myself time to stretch and grow.

  • Leah Lewis

    What are some good “deeper questions” to ask to get conversations started?

    • KG

      If you know the person a bit, I find that asking “How can I pray for you,” being a really great conversation starter.
      Or other ones I find helpful:
      “How have you seen God bless you this week?”
      “Is there anyway I can serve you?”
      “Learn anything new this week?”

      Also, I really liked this blog today. Thank you so much! Very insightful!

  • Christian Country Girl

    I can relate! For me, it’s actually easier to talk one-on-one. I can talk about deeper stuff and I’m more observant (I’d say those are my good qualities as a quiet person). The hard part, for me, is talking in groups, meeting new ppl, and participating in group activities (unless it’s one where there’s no pressure on me). Im also wih Leah though. What are some good, meaningful conversation starters? I can usually talk if someone else starts the conversation, but it’s hard for me to be the one to start it.

  • This was so encouraging! I struggle with shyness as well, but have been trying very hard to work on this, and with the Lord’s help I am getting better!
    I have a hard time starting conversations, knowing what questions to ask. Could you give us some good conversation starter questions, or ways you have found helpful to start meaningful conversations?

    • Kaite

      I’m in a similar boat, been learning slowly but surely 🙂 It’s always a little tricky for me to initiate, but if I can ask a very basic question like “how has your week been” “or what have you been up to?” etc, asking intentional questions based on those basic questions has opened up lots of deeper conversation. If they reference a work project, asking what they’ve learned, what about the work motivates them, where have they needed the most perseverance? Or if it’s about an activity they participate in, how did they become involved/passionate about that? What would they love to see God do with that passion in the future? How have they grown by participating? Always listening for little things people mention that I could use to find out more about their heart, their journey, how God is using theme — and then sharing those reflections before parting as a way to encourage and let them know how we see God at work in their life/heart.

  • Kerry

    The problem I have is holding a conversation with new people and just being able to talk to new people. When I’m with people I do know, I talk alot but amongst new people I feel very self concious; whether I look presentable, are they going to like me and what do I even talk about. I usually end up avoiding people for that reason. I also have a particularly hard time with guys. Even in a work situation, I find interactions with them very difficult and I don’t really know how to deal with it.

  • Melissa

    I am an introvert as well! When I was a little kid I was scared of everything and terribly shy. Even into my early teen years I wouldn’t go through the cash register at the store by myself. Somehow slowly I started not being so shy. I wasn’t trying to be less shy either, somehow it just happened. I am almost 24 now and own my own business and interact and make conversations with people all the time with no problems! It’s funny to think now of how silly it was that I was so scared and shy, when there was no reason to be!

  • Shanae B

    Thanks for sharing on this topic! I’m actually an extrovert and often get into conversations with introverts (they’re great listeners!). It’s easy to get annoyed though when they let their shyness get the best of them and not speak much back (or even avoid talking to anyone altogether). Is there some guidelines for us extrovertes to (in a positive way) help introverts in this area? Thanks for reminding us that God created and uses such different personalities for his glory!

    • Brittania

      I’m also an extrovert and my better friends are introverts!

  • Bashara

    I have struggled with shyness for many years. But I have been getting better over the years, it used to be that I wouldn’t say a word to someone. But now I’m the one starting conversations . I realized that I have a choice to stay shy or try to use my quiet personality to uplift others. And that’s what I’m trying to do now. I even was a youth leader last year and it was a great experience for me.

  • Jade

    I do feel uncomfortable in social settings, but this is particularly with a lot of people around. If it’s one-on-one I tend to be alright and prefer this over a group. I’ve been like this as long as I remember. I’m seventeen now and still have struggles when it comes to talking with people. Sometimes people would get offended when I wouldn’t talk to them or find me rude, but in reality, I desperately wanted to speak but it was too hard to form words. I didn’t want to sound foolish or say something I’d regret. I also worried about how my voice would sound, whether out of the blue it would croak or if it was too deep for a girl. I started seeing a psychologist about this and she started helping me, giving me tasks to improve my communication skills. I was gradually getting better but my progress was very little. I don’t see a psychologist anymore but am planning different ways to improve my social ability.

  • Sara Dyck

    This does sound so much like me I have a shy nature but sometimes it seems like it’s a habit I have worked with it a few months now I am trying with God’s help to change.

  • Maddie Miller

    This really spoke to me! I have realized recently that I am quite socially awkward and I have a hard time holding up my end of the conversation. But, what’s worse is that I feel like it’s holding me back from fully serving God. Because, a big part of spreading His word and furthering His Kingdom is TALKING TO PEOPLE!!! So, I’m glad that I came to this realization and have been trying to work on it for a while now. And, looking back, I can see that I have come along quite a bit, already! But, like it said in this post, you really have to force yourself into those awkward situations for growth to occur. Because you know what they say, “practice makes perfect”. 🙂 Anyway, y’all keep up the good work! I know that you can do this!

  • Wow, this was very encouraging to me. I am often very shy and withdrawn and I’m been working on that for a while now. These were some great pointers! Thank you for sharing a little bit of your story, Ellissa 🙂

  • Alivia

    This is EXACTLY what I needed to hear today. I love people, I love talking to people, I love encouraging and fellowshipping with people. The problem is, I am very shy, and when I do speak, it is always very awkward. I never know what to say, and I get anxiety for saying the simplest things. Probably why I only have 3 friends. I have been homeschooled my whole life and come from a very introvert family, so we don’t really have a social life. I tend to blame my shyness on the fact that I get scolded at home when talking to much or sharing my opinions. I play volleyball and softball, which I think is good for me because sports encourage talkativeness, loudness, and being a part of a team is something I really need in my life. Everywhere I go , I always feel like a outsider because of my shyness and I hate it! This was really inspiring Elissa, thanks for sharing!

  • Mary Joan

    I get

  • Scarlet

    Can you talk more about how shyness is a form of selfishness because I don’t really get how that works

    • Christian Country Girl

      It’s not selfish to have a quiet personality, but if you let shyness get the better of you to where you avoid talking to people or participating in things, it becomes selfish because you are letting fear take over. I didn’t really like admitting it, but that’s how I am sometimes with guys. I don’t mean to be rude at all, but I find myself avoiding certain guys a lot because I have trouble starting a conversation. I know the reason, but they don’t. So, to them, I could be avoiding them bc I don’t like them or I’m just being rude. Anyway…it can be selfish because we’re placing our feelings and fears over what’s really important- sharing Christ’s love to everyone, even if we’re not comfortable at first. I hope that makes sense! 🙂

  • Olivia Reinitz

    This is me!! I really want to have more conversations with the people around me. Especially so I can tell them about Jesus. Thank you for this encouragement!

  • Anna Kae

    This is amazing, reading the blog and the comments and realizing that there are actually people like me out there!!! ( LOL the part about hiding from social stuff- so me!) I’ve always been introverted, but I think a lot of it now is out of habit. I want to let go of my shyness, so I can be the girl God wants me to be, and to have meaningful conversations with people. This blog is SO encouraging. Thank you, Ellissa!

  • Brenda Vega

    So glad I came across this blog. Thank you God. This is my current struggle right now. And I’ve been praying hard for guidance. Because as a 28 year old woman I have to grow in this area. Badly. Can’t wait to apply this.
    To answer your questions: 1. Because I feel like others don’t like me or what if they don’t like me. The thought of rejection scares me. 2. Rejection has played a big part in me being shy and keeping to myself. 3. I will talk to someone who can help me and keep accountable. And also get out there slowly but surely. Talk to at least one person 5 min is a good start.

  • Anna Madarász

    Hi!

    Thank you for your words! I have a question. What do you mean in this sencente: “shyness is usually a disquised form of selfishness”?

  • Octubre

    This has been my strugle since I can remember. I didn’t have any friends at school, I was shy and quiet, and my parents didn’t encourage me to have friends back then because most of the kids I knew were not Christians. I grew up being mocked and put aside by my classmates, so it was six years of feeling alone and unloved. Besides, I had a severe scoliosis from ten to almost thirteen which made me a tarjet of a lot of rejection and mockery that destroyed my self confidence completely. In my teen years things get just a little better, I started kinda hanging out with some classmates but it didn’t last after graduation…
    All those bad things made me a self-conscious, introvert, shy person. So yes, I do feel out of place in social meetings, I just don’t how to act or what to say and it’s a difficult task to talk with a boy I’m not familiar with. I always feel akward, as if any thing I’d say it’s going to be misunderstood and people would think I’m a weirdo. I feel too that I don’t fit, that I don’t belong anywhere.

    To answer the second question, like I said, it started when I was just a child. I didn’t have friends in elementary school, and now it’s still difficult to me to open myself to people, I hate talking about me because I just don’t feel comfortable enough to do so. I can’t trust people easily and I don’t want to approach them because I think that if they cared about me they would approach me first. I don’t want to look desperate and pathetic, or give the impresion I am so needed of attention and begging for love and aceptation.

    In the third place, I honestly don’t know what to do or how to do it. I’ve tried approaching people in the past with the intention of being their friend, but they just dissmised me. They didn’t care. So I am scared to be hurt and manipulated again and I really don’t think that saying “hi” or being nice is going to work for me…

    The thing is I feel so alone and unwanted. I shouldn’t, but it is what I feel like. I would really like to have a best friend but I can’t. I don’t have anyone I can trust enough. Last person I did so -a leader I admired and saw as a role model- left the church and treated me like a stranger from then on. Trusting people in those fragile matters is just not easy for me.

    I could tell a lot more but I think I have written enough. It wasn’t my intenttion to write so much, I just wanted to explain myself.
    As I previously said, this is my actual struggle and I know I must change some things, but for the moment I don’t have the streght to do it. I also think this has to do with some kind of spiritual issue I need to break free first. However, I cant’ do this alone. I will apreciate your prayings, changing these especific aspects of my life is not going to be easy. I believe the Lord brought me here, so thank you so much for sharing your story.

    • chris

      Wow ,I can totally relate to this now , growing up I felt that had to be loud or always have something to say or do so that I could stand out or be noticed , because of my childhood I was scared of bieng ignored or bieng invisible. but now I think God is teaching how to let go of that and and listen and that I do not have to be loud or an extrovert to get peoles attention. And maybe bieng an introvert is actually a blessing and is something that society uses to classify people and t o control how we carry ourselves , and think about that if you are christian you are never really alone right? and it is not relly abad thing if you dont let it consume and in some instances it’s ok to be shy

  • elizaBeth

    I have a question.
    How do you make friends with people who don’t seem to want to become closer and actually be good friends?
    This is something I’ve been struggling with lately. Every Christian Teen Girl I meet seems to just push me aside if I start a conversation and they won’t want to talk anymore. I feel alone, I’m tired of not having any friends. I have a phone but nobody texts me!
    Any advice? I would appreciate the prayer as well 🙂

  • Sarah

    I am sixteen and a friend and I have really been wanting a new family to join our church, so our group of friends grows. Well, a couple of months later it happened! I am a shy person and have a hard time keeping up conversations and making eye contact with people outside my group of friends. When this family did come our conversations were really awkward because we couldn’t keep the conversation going and know I’ve realized I’ve been trying to impress them, and that’s not good! My friend and I asked for a very good thing and I’m turning it the opposite! From this post I think I can become closer with the new girls if I keep a five minute conversation going, asking questions that would help me get to know them better. I believe it won’t be so awkward anymore! I am so thankful I read this when I did, and not at an earlier time before the girls came! I am so thankful for the girl defined blog and know how i can apply what I’ve learned from this post to my real life situations. Thank you!

  • Ruslana

    Wow thanks so much for sharing this for being courageous and opening up I feel like I have this issue too and have been praying for God to help me because it limits by ability to share about Jesus and this blog gives practical tips. Thanks for being courageous, not many people would share their weaknesses but I’m glad God was able to use your weaknesses to help others as well.

  • Annie

    i feel like this is me . i try to be friendly but my conversations only last like 1 or 2 minutes at the most i feel kind of lonely . how do i make the conversations last long ?

    • Qwerty

      Awwwww I feel like that sometimes too
      My advice to you is to WANT to have a long conversation, and to ask questions! Lots and lots of questions! People don’t usually mind, and if you do just apologize in advance for asking so many.
      Ask questions that you wish people would ask you!! There’s no reason not to! 🙂
      Try to have lots to say, comment on everything if you can. Maybe even try rehearsing conversations to your self
      Hope this helped!! 🙂

      • Annie

        thanks i’ll try it 🙂

  • Jasmine Blanton

    Story of my life! God’s grace brought me through low self-esteem and shyness at the same time! I always felt like I had to dress like everyone and they would accept me or come up to me and talk to me and want to be my friend. That didn’t work at all. I’m an introvert as well and the thought of going up to people and talking to them freaked me out. My sister on the other hand was no stranger to anyone. Everyone loved her the moment they met her. I felt like I had no identity. I was defined by my shyness and low self-esteem. Thank God He stepped in and changed that! Now I’m a small group leader as well, I sing on our praise team too. If you would have told me three years ago that I would be used by God in the way that He’s using me now I would’ve told you you’re insane. All glory is to God for making me into the person I am today, and He is still working for His glory!!

    • B

      Wow what an amazing story
      I pray the Lord changes my life they way He did yours!
      Right now I just feel like God isn’t using me at all, I’m only 16, but I still feel like there is something I could be doing for God. I wish I could go out and witness and spread the gospel, but sadly I’m not allowed.

      Please pray for me, because I do feel like how you said you felt, no identity and little self esteem. People don’t really seem to like me if I be my quiet self, so I always have to just fake enthusiasm, I guess it’s ok cause they do say “fake it till you make it”
      I would appreciate the prayer.
      Thanks.

  • Sarah

    This is totally me, I do not like being in a set group where I am expected to talk and share my thoughts. I try to get out of “shy” shell and find other people to talk to at church, but no-one seems to except me, especially people my age (I’m 18). I have more older people and young children as friends than I do of girls my age. I’ve been going to the same church for eight years and I only have four people that I would call my friends. One of them is my age, another one is in their 30s, another one in her 60’s, and yet another one in her 90’s. I don’t know if it is because I tend to be shy around people that I don’t know very well, or I just haven’t connected. I don’t know, but I really want some other friends my age at church. I like leaving as soon as possible after church services most of the time because I don’t have anyone to talk to. Please pray that I will be able to make more friends and church and that people will open up to me.


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